NOTE: If you clicked from an introductory email for this weeks blog, Click here to continue where the email left off.
I have had the opportunity to work with many individuals who have been recognized for their capabilities as an employee in an organization. For many, the recognition results in promoting her or him into a position of management and leadership. Of course, for this person, this brings about the satisfying feelings of excitement and success. Their hard work and dedication have paid off and the reward is earning a step up in both the company and their career.
However, this is often proven to be a challenging situation. The move means recognizing that all the knowledge and efforts one provided that earned this exciting movement are different from the new skills and capabilities that success in the new role will require. There are three initial challenges that one must be aware of and seek the help and training to develop basic skills. They are as follows:
The Basic Challenges Initially Faced by One Entering Leadership Ranks
- Developing the Mindset of a Leader
Transitioning from a star performer with great confidence in their role to a position of leadership is anything but automatic and easy. Their new leadership role requires that they coach, engage, have difficult conversations, and motivate those relying on their guidance. This challenge is accompanied by real stress as the person also contends with the potential of ongoing change and pressure.
There is the need for the new manager/leader to recognize that what got them to this point was good. However, they must reassess all the skills and talents that brought them this success and determine which of them translates into being a good leader.
- Managing Former Co-workers
It is much the norm that the new leader is now overseeing former colleagues with whom they have worked side by side in their former role. In some cases, any one of these people might have been vying for this same promotion to leadership. Often this provides the advancing individual with a challenge related to balance. Balance does not require that former friends stop being friends. It is best handled by remaining true to who you are as a person and addressing the situation openly and directly with these former work mates.
Senior management can help this process by engaging the new leader in role-playing. Practicing the way you wish to be and come across to a former co-worker helps to develop comfort and confidence in dealing with this situation.
- Identifying and Managing Skill Gaps
A key step in the new leader developing the necessary capabilities that will facilitate their success. In this role, the individual needs to have awareness of where they are strong and where they lack the needed skills to be successful in the full range of requirements of the position. Having a balanced capability between the needed technical skills and the ‘human’ skills is going to contribute significantly to their ultimate success as a leader. An organization that actively participates and helps this emerging leader fill in the gaps to provide such a balance is going to accelerate the desired success.
The the SKills That the Emerging Leader Needs to Develop
The three initial and basic challenges identified above are real and addressing them by providing the necessary guidance will positively impact the new leader. Along this this shift is the need for individuals to navigate a new set of responsibilities, relationships, and expectations. In this dynamic landscape, several challenges commonly arise, each demanding a unique set of skills and strategies for success. They include the following:
- Transition from individual contributor to Leader
One of the most significant challenges is the shift from being an individual contributor to a leader. Many individuals excel in their roles as contributors but struggle when tasked with managing and leading others. This transition involves letting go of the mindset of accomplishing tasks individually and adopting a broader perspective that encompasses the success of the entire team.
- Building and Leading a Team
Forming and leading a cohesive team is a multifaceted challenge. Managers must navigate diverse personalities, skill sets, and work styles. This involves understanding team dynamics, fostering a collaborative environment, and creating a sense of unity and shared purpose. Additionally, effective communication and conflict resolution skills are essential for addressing issues that may arise within the team.
- Developing Leadership Skills
Leadership is a skill that requires continuous development. New managers often face challenges in honing leadership skills such as decision-making, strategic thinking, and vision-setting. They must learn to inspire and motivate others, delegate tasks effectively, and navigate the complexities of organizational dynamics.
- Establishing Credibility
Gaining the trust and respect of team members and peers is crucial for success in a leadership role. New managers may encounter skepticism from those who were once their peers, and establishing credibility requires a delicate balance of confidence, humility, and competence. Consistency in actions and a commitment to transparent communication contribute to building trust.
- Adapting to Organizational Culture
Every organization has its unique culture, norms, and values. Adapting to this culture while maintaining authenticity can be challenging. New managers must understand and align themselves with the organization’s goals and values, while also bringing their own perspectives to contribute positively to the workplace.
- Time Management and Prioritization
The transition to a management role often comes with increased responsibilities and a higher volume of tasks. Effective time management and prioritization become critical skills. Managers must learn to balance short-term goals with long-term objectives, allocating time wisely to ensure both immediate tasks and strategic initiatives receive adequate attention.
- Handling Performance Issues
Addressing performance issues within the team is an inevitable aspect of leadership. Whether it involves providing constructive feedback, managing underperformance, or recognizing and rewarding success, navigating the complexities of performance management requires emotional intelligence, tact, and a fair approach.
- Communication Challenges
Effective communication is at the core of successful leadership. New managers may face challenges in communicating expectations clearly, providing feedback constructively, and ensuring that the team is well-informed about organizational goals and changes. Learning to tailor communication styles to different audiences is essential.
- Conflict Resolution
Conflicts can arise within any team or organization. New managers must develop skills in conflict resolution to address interpersonal issues and ensure a harmonious working environment. This involves understanding the root causes of conflicts, facilitating open dialogue, and finding mutually beneficial resolutions.
- Continuous Learning and Adaptability
The business environment is dynamic, and effective leaders must be adaptable and open to continuous learning. Staying updated on industry trends, management best practices, and evolving technologies is essential for making informed decisions and steering the team through changes.
Transitioning into a management or leadership role in an organization is a multifaceted journey filled with challenges. Successfully navigating these challenges requires a combination of self-awareness, interpersonal skills, strategic thinking, and a commitment to continuous improvement. As new managers develop and refine these competencies, they not only enhance their own professional growth but also contribute significantly to the success and resilience of their teams and organizations.
Sarah Gallo – associate editor at TrainingIndustry.com. – Three challenges facing new managers and how training can help.